North Korea Table of Contents
The air force has a marginal capability for defending North Korean airspace and a limited ability to conduct air operations against South Korea. Its strengths are its large numbers of aircraft, a system of well-dispersed and well-protected air facilities, and an effective, if rudimentary, command and control system. Its weaknesses include limited flight training; forced reliance on outside sources for aircraft, most of its missiles, radars, and associated equipment; and maintenance problems associated with older aircraft. The effectiveness of ground training--on which the pilots heavily depend--is difficult to judge because there is no information on P'yongyang's acquisition or use of sophisticated flight simulators.
Pilot proficiency is difficult to evaluate because it is crudely proportionate to hours and quality of flight time. Although the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense's Defense White Paper, 1990 states that flight training levels are 60 percent of South Korea's, other sources believe the figure is closer to 20 to 30 percent. Lower flight times are attributed to fuel shortages, a more conservative training philosophy, and perhaps a concern for older airframe life expectancies or maintenance infrastructure capacity.
Data as of June 1993